Seagull die-off reported at Sleeping Bear Dunes

EMPIRE, MI – Dozens of dead seagulls are turning up along the Lake Michigan shoreline at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, and scientists suspect botulism.

In a statement Thursday, lakeshore officials say about 40 gull carcasses and hundreds of dead round gobies have been found this week. The fish are believed to carry botulism and pass it to birds that eat them.

Gobies eat invasive zebra and quagga mussels, which filter botulism and other toxins in the water.

Thousands of birds across the Great Lakes region have been killed by Type E botulism since the late 1990s, although the number dropped significantly last year at Sleeping Bear.

Officials say Sleeping Bear's beaches and waters are safe but advise visitors to keep themselves and their pets away from dead birds or fish.